by Jason Z, The first step is to start – (37signals), with notes by Rick
Many people ask me, “How can I get started in web design?” or, “What skills do I need to start making web applications?” While it would be easy to recommend stacks of books, and dozens of articles with 55 tips for being 115% better than the next guy, the truth is that you don’t need learn anything new in order to begin. The most important thing is simply to start.
Rick: Jason is telling people to take ACTION as the first baby step, and for those that CAN, this is great advice. The challenge is in the RESISTANCE we feel when old traumas and “rules” we have prevent us from feeling SAFE taking any starting action at all. This is where tapping and coaching can help.
Start making something. If you want to learn web design, make a website. Want to be an entreprenuer and start a business selling web based products? Make an app. Maybe you don’t have the skills yet, but why worry about that? You probably don’t even know what skills you need.
Take a moment and answer that question. What is worry-worthy about taking a step without the skills already in place? Is it fear of looking incompetent? Where did you learn that?
You probably don’t even know what skills you need, so don’t worry about it. Start with what you already know.
You can do a lot of the work with simple sketches or slides. You’ll be able to see your idea take form and begin to evaluate whether or not it really is something special. It’s at that point you can take the next step, which might be learning enough HTML to take your prototype into the browser. The point is, go as far as you can with the skills and tools that you have.
Many times the reasons we don’t start something have nothing to do with lack of skills, materials, or facilities. The real blockers are self-criticism and excuses.
It’s fine to say “avoid self-doubt” and this article points out that self-doubt is indeed what stops people. As an emotional freedom coach, what I’d add is that the self-doubt serves a purpose… it is there to “keep us SAFE” even at the cost of creative expression. The primitive brain is involved. Techniques like Tapping (EFT) help shift that part of us… transforming self-doubt into curiosity.
In the excellent book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, the author, Betty Edwards, discusses how we all draw as kids but around adolescence, many of us stop developing that ability.
“The beginning of adolescence seems to mark the abrupt end of artistic development in terms of drawing skills for many adults. As children, they confronted an artistic crisis, a conflict between their increasingly complex perceptions of the world around them and their current level of art skill.”
At that age kids become increasingly self-critical and equally interested in drawing realistically. When they fail to draw as well as they know is possible many give up drawing at all.
This feeling continues into adulthood. We want to design a website or build an application but if our own toolset doesn’t match up to the perceived skillset we never start. It doesn’t help that the internet gives us nearly limitless exposure to amazing work, talented individuals, and excellent execution. It’s easy to feel inadequate when you compare yourself to the very best, but even they weren’t born with those skills and they wouldn’t have them if they never started.
An excellent logical point. Emotionally, one way to neutralize this is to shift fear-based rules like “I have to be the BEST!!” and move towards self-empowering notions like, “I bet there is something I can learn from that person and integrate that into my practice and make it my own… perhaps even add my own unique twist!”
Do—there is no try
People who succeed somehow find a way to keep working despite the self-doubt. The artist, Vincent Van Gogh was only an artist for the last ten years of his life. We all know him for masterful works of art, but he didn’t start out as a master. Compare these examples from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain showing an early drawing compared to one completed two years later:
Vincent Van Gogh Carpenter, 1880 and Woman Mourning, 1882
He wasn’t some child prodigy (he was 27 when he started painting), he learned his craft by hard work. If he’d listened to his own self doubt or despaired that his skills didn’t compare to Paul Gauguin’s it’s likely he never would have even tried.
This is all to say that there are many things that can get in the way of the things we should be creating. To never follow a dream because you don’t think you’re good enough or don’t have the skills, or knowledge, or experience is a waste. In fact, these projects where there is doubt are the ones to pursue. They offer the greatest challenge and the greatest rewards. Why bother doing something you already have done a hundred times, where there is nothing left to learn? Don’t worry about what you need to know in order to finish a project, you already have everything you need to start.
Sometimes we are simply blocked. I so appreciate Jason Z for pointing out that so much creative expression is blocked by self-doubt. And he’s right that you already HAVE everything you NEED to start… a desire, an impulse, a dream. And if you are saying to yourself things like “I don’t have the skills” or “I’ll never be good enough” …consider whether those statements MIGHT just be there to try and keep you emotionally safe. If so, the first step might be to build up some more emotional skill and resilience. Yes, use your desire as something to draw you forward. And at the same time, take an emotional journey where you let go of old traumas and “failures” that block you from enjoying being a curious and engaged beginner. –Rick, email@example.com